The Permission of Evil, Part 3

The Permission of Evil, Part 3

The Permission of Evil

Although it’s true, God has the power to force man into either sin or righteousness, nevertheless we are assured by His Word that he has no such intention of doing so. He could not consistently force man into sin for the same reason that “he cannot deny himself.” Such a course would be inconsistent with his righteous character, and therefore an impossibility. And he seeks the worship and love of only such as worship him in spirit and in truth. To this end he has given man a liberty of will like unto his own, and desires him to choose righteousness.

Permitting man to choose for himself led to his fall from divine fellowship and favor and blessings, into death. By his experience in sin and death, man learns practically what God offered to teach him theoretically, without his experiencing sin and its results. God’s foreknowledge of what man would do is not used against him, as an excuse for degrading him to a mere machine-being: on the contrary, it is used in man’s favor; for God, foreseeing the course man would take if left free to choose for himself, did not hinder him from tasting sin and its bitter results experimentally, but he began at once to provide a means for his recovery from his first transgression by providing a Redeemer, a great Savior, able to save to the uttermost all who would return unto God through him. To this end–that man might have a free will and yet be enabled to profit by his first failure in its misuse, in disobedience to the Lord’s will–God has provided not only a ransom for all, but also that a knowledge of the opportunity thus offered of reconciliation with himself shall be testified to all in due time. 1 Tim. 2:3-6

The severity of the penalty was not a display of hatred and malice on God’s part, but the necessary and inevitable, final result of evil, which God thus allowed man to see and feel. God can sustain life as long as he sees fit, even against the destructive power of actual evil; but it would be as impossible for God to sustain such a life everlastingly, as it is for God to lie. That is, it is morally impossible. Such a life could only become more and more a source of unhappiness to itself and others; therefore, God is too good to sustain an existence so useless and injurious to itself and others, and, his sustaining power being withdrawn, destruction, the natural result of evil, would ensue. Life is a favor, a gift of God, and it will be continued everlastingly only to the obedient.

No injustice has been done to Adam’s posterity in not affording them each an individual trial. Jehovah was in no sense bound to bring us into existence; and, having brought us into being, no law of equity or justice binds him to perpetuate our being everlastingly, nor even to grant us a trial under promise of everlasting life if obedient. Mark this point well. The present life, which from the cradle to the tomb is but a process of dying, is, notwithstanding all its evils and disappointments, a boon, a favor, even if there were no hereafter. The large majority so esteem it, the exceptions (suicides) being comparatively few; and these our courts of justice have repeatedly decided to be mentally unbalanced, as otherwise they would not thus cut themselves from present blessings. Besides, the conduct of the perfect man, Adam, shows us what the conduct of his children would have been under similar circumstances.

Many have imbibed the erroneous idea that God placed our race on trial for life with the alternative of eternal torture, whereas nothing of the kind is even hinted at in the penalty. The favor or blessing of God to his obedient children is life–continuous life–free from pain, sickness and every other element of decay and death. Adam was given this blessing in the full measure, but was warned that he would be deprived of this “gift” if he failed to render obedience to God–“In the day that thou eats thereof, dying, thou shalt die.” He knew nothing of a life in torment, as the penalty of sin. Life everlasting is nowhere promised to any but the obedient. Life is God’s gift, and death, the opposite of life, is the penalty he prescribes.

Eternal torture is nowhere suggested in the Old Testament Scriptures, and only a few statements in the New Testament can be so misconstrued as to appear to teach it; and these are found either among the symbolism’s of Revelation, or among the parables and dark sayings of our Lord, which were not understood by the people who heard them (Luke 8:10), and which seem to be but little better comprehended today by majority of professing Christians. “The wages of sin is death.” (Rom. 6:23) “The soul that sins, it shall die.” (Ezek. 18:4) Pretty plain and straight forward.

Many have supposed God unjust in allowing Adam’s condemnation to be shared by his posterity, instead of granting each one a trial and chance for everlasting life similar to that which Adam enjoyed. But what will such say if it now be shown that the world’s opportunity and trial for life will be much more favorable than was Adam’s; and that, too, because God adopted this plan of permitting Adam’s race to share his penalty in a natural way? We believe this to be the case, and will endeavor to make it plain.

God assures us that as condemnation passed upon all in Adam, so he has arranged for a new head, father or life-giver for the race, into whom all may be transferred by faith and obedience and that as all in Adam shared the curse of death, so all in Christ will share the blessing of restitution; the Church being an exception. (Rom. 5:12,18,19) Thus seen, the death of Jesus, the undefiled, the sinless one, was a complete settlement toward God of the sin of Adam. As one man had sinned, and all in him had shared his curse, his penalty, so Jesus, having paid the penalty of that one sinner, bought not only Adam, but all his posterity–all men– who by heredity shared his weaknesses and sins and the penalty of these–death. Our Lord, “the man Christ Jesus,” himself unblemished, approved, and with a perfect seed or race in him, unborn, likewise untainted with sin, gave his all of human life and title as the full ransom-price for Adam and the race or seed in him when sentenced.

After fully purchasing the lives of Adam and his race, Christ offers to adopt as his seed, his children, all of Adam’s race who will accept the terms of his New Covenant and thus by faith and obedience come into the family of God and receive everlasting life. Thus the Redeemer will “see his seed [as many of Adam’s seed as will accept adoption, upon his conditions] and prolong his days [resurrection to a higher than human plane, being granted him by the Father as a reward for his obedience],” and all in the most unlikely way; by the sacrifice of life and posterity. And thus it is written: “As all in Adam die, even so all in Christ shall be made alive.” Corrected translation, 1 Cor. 15:22

The injury we received through Adam’s fall (we suffered no injustice) is, by God’s favor, to be more than offset with favor through Christ; and all will sooner or later (in God’s “due time”) have a full opportunity to be restored to the same standing that Adam enjoyed before he sinned. Those who do not receive a full knowledge and, by faith, an enjoyment of this favor of God in the present time (and such are the great majority, including both children and the heathen) will assuredly have these privileges in the next age, or “world to come,” the dispensation or age to follow the present. To this end, “all that are in their graves…shall come forth.” As each one (whether in this age or the next) becomes fully aware of the ransom-price given by our Lord Jesus, and of his subsequent privileges, he is considered as on trial, as Adam was; and obedience brings lasting life, and disobedience lasting death–the “second death.” Perfect obedience, however, without perfect ability to render it, is not required of any. Under the Covenant of Grace, members of the Church during the Gospel age have had the righteousness of Christ imputed to them by faith, to make up their unavoidable deficiencies through the weakness of the flesh. Divine Grace will also operate toward “whosoever will” of the world during the Millennial age. Not until physical perfection is reached (which will be the privilege of all before the close of the Millennial age) will absolute moral perfection be expected. That new trial, the result of the ransom and the New Covenant, will differ from the trial in Eden, in that in it the acts of each one will affect only his own future.

But would not this be giving some of the race a second chance to gain everlasting life? We answer–The first chance for everlasting life was lost for himself and all of his race, “yet in his loins,” by father Adam’s disobedience. Under that original trial “condemnation passed upon all men”; and God’s plan was that through Christ’s redemption-sacrifice Adam, and all who lost life in his failure, should, after having tasted of the exceeding sinfulness of sin and felt the weight of sin’s penalty, be given the opportunity to turn unto God through faith in the Redeemer. If any one chooses to call this a “second chance,” let him do so: it must certainly be Adam’s second chance, and in a sense at least it is the same for all of the redeemed race, but it will be the  first individual opportunity of his descendants, who, when born, were already under condemnation to death. Call it what we please, the facts are the same; viz., all were sentenced to death because of Adam’s disobedience, and all will enjoy (in the Millennial age) a full opportunity to gain everlasting life under the favorable terms of the New Covenant.

This, as the angels declared, is “Good tidings of great joy which shall be unto all people.” And, as the Apostle declared, this grace of God–that our Lord Jesus “gave himself a ransom for all“–must be “testified” to all “in due time.” (Rom. 5:17-19; 1 Tim. 2:4-6) Men, not God, have limited to the Gospel age this chance or opportunity of attaining life. God, on the contrary, tells us that the Gospel age is merely for the selection of the Church, the royal priesthood, through whom, during a succeeding age, all others shall be brought to an accurate knowledge of the truth and granted full opportunity to secure everlasting life under the New Covenant.” (A126-131)

Continued with next post.